Japanese retail shifting to experience consumption

Asked by a March 2009 MyVoice Internet survey to explain their defection from department stores, they cited expensive products, “annoying staff,” and an “inability to shop at my own pace.” Consumers are favoring venues that satisfy needs beyond shopping, such as eating and entertainment.

If you are interested in Retail, Japan, or the combination of the two read this quick article by Brian Salsber. It discusses the general consumer behavior trends of Japan and links it to online sales. Three points that were evident through his study:

  1. The Japanese Internet retail market is growing at a rate of close to 10% 
  2. The Japanese consumer is shifting their purchases from goods to experiences 
  3. The Japanese consumer is increasingly sensitive to customer service.

What does this mean for the Japanese retailer? Internet retail and the cultural shift from product to experience consumption will detract purchases away from store fronts. In the contracted economy and low margin business model, retail, this will separate the chaff from the corn.

So what can a Japanese retailer do?

  1. The shift from store front purchasing to surf and click is a great opportunity for retailers. Retailers must have a multi channeled approach to bring their products to market. Do not abandon the store front, but do optimize your web presence. Do not remove all face to face contact with you customer, but do give them another (easy) way of communicating with you.
  2. A customer purchases your good because it helps them reach a goal. Remember that your product is part of a process, part of an experience. When displaying your product remind your consumer of this experience. If you sell running shoes, remind the customer that you help them lead a healthy life. If you sell TV's, remind the customer that you help them escape from reality.
  3. Your front line is your brand. Do you know what your sales staff is communicating to the customer? Create frameworks to instill this brand in your staff. Have your staff instill the brand message, and feeling, into the consumer.